Ukraine Turf Wars, Kolomoisky vs. Poroshenko
Dmitry MININ | 14.07.2014 | WORLD / Russia & CIS

Ukraine Turf Wars, Kolomoisky vs. Poroshenko

The civil war in Ukraine is in full swing. The strong and influential ones start serious turf wars trying to cook a hare before catching him. Donbass and the control over Ukraine are at stake. Petro Poroshenko and his team believe the position of President paves the way for full control over Ukraine. But Igor Kolomoisky, a tycoon to have great ambitions and is hardly immune to greed, may think otherwise. 

The third richest man in Ukraine (Poroshenko tops the first ten) the governor of Dnepropetrovsk region funded private armed formations known for waging a tough fight against the self-defense forces – they are battalions Dnepr, Azov, Aidar, Donbass. He compensated the expenditure by providing regular logistics to the regular army. With the thugs joining his formations, Kolomoisky hopes to be able to call the shots in Ukraine. His main interest is property. He wants to own the riches of the leading tycoon Rinat Akhmetov ($15 billion in comparison with only $3, 9 billion in case of Kolomoisky). The way to do it is to confiscate the companies that belong to Akhmetov and transfer them to someone reliable (probably meaning himself). At one of the meetings Kolomoisky said the state had to confiscate the property: factories and shares, of those who took the side of separatists and who is involved in funding terrorism in the country. According to Kolomoisky, dozens of industrial facilities have been appropriated without competition, now Yanukovych and his team uses the profits for killing their own compatriots. 

Predominantly residing in Switzerland, Kolomoisky finds ways to control the Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa and Kharkov regions. At the moment his influence is getting spread around the regions of Donetsk, Zaporozhye, and Nikolaev. He puts forward the idea of dividing the Donetsk region by making separate the Priazov region with Mariupol as its capital… His ambitions go as far as to become the provincial governor of the whole south-east of Ukraine with its two thirds of national GDP. It’ll make President Poroshenko a ‘lame duck” with no leverage to rule the country. 

Actually Kolomoisky does not care much about Ukraine, but he does really care about his Jewish compatriots living in Israel. Ukrainian national news - UNN information agency published the revelations of the well-known expert, the veteran of Israeli Shin Bet ("Shabak"), the organization responsible for internal security, Alex Groissman who believes that the recent events in the Middle East make more Israelis consider the possibility of moving to Ukraine. They pin their hopes on Kolomoisky to save them from Islamic militants. They believe their job is done; they pushed the Soviet Union and then China from the Middle East and controlled the restive Arab neighbors. Now as Washington uses the controlled chaos to clean the way for the emergence of new quasi-states under its control capturing new oil and gas deposits on the way, Israel with its special vision of the Middle East becomes expendable there. 

Alex Groissman believes that Ukraine is a historic land of many Israelis and could become another Promised Land where Jews could rely on the support of local diasporas, first of all in the Dnepropetrovsk region. Igor Kolomoisky is the governor and the head of the European Council of Jewish Communities. With him heading the local power structures the Jews would feel safe and well-protected from the attacks of nationalist-minded Ukrainians. 

Kolomoisky has cold calculation here too. He wants the territory cleansed for other goals. Groissman acknowledges that the way the events unfold in Ukraine Kolomoisky may have no other choice but take on the responsibility for the fate of his country. In this case he would need the support of millions of coreligionists who know how to defend the land with arms in their hands. 

No doubt Groissman exaggerates the readiness of Washington to leave alone the strategic ally – Israel, but it’s all right for bringing in more loyal population. Talking about the Kolomoisky’s greed and the activities of the group Privat headed by him, a Ukrainian journalist, who has studied the case well, says if there is a need for Kolomoisky to eliminate ten thousand people, it would be more expedient if they burn themselves. Perhaps perpetrators should be eliminated the same way too to optimize the things. The only question left - who’ll pay the tycoon for generated heating? 

The media under the control of Kolomoisky did its best to spread around the words of Gunther Scholz of Der Tagesspiegel. According to Sholtz, the seizure of such symbols of separatism as Slavyansk and Kramatorsk is no doubt a merit of Igor Kolomoisky, the governor of Dnepropetrovsk. According to Sholtz, the President of Ukraine will have to give his position to Kolomoisky. Actually it’s nothing else but a rotation at the top level. Perhaps early election is an option. Or there may be a compromise – Kolomoisky may be given special powers, for instance becoming Supreme Commander in Chief. The situation in Ukraine is deteriorating rapidly and delaying the necessary decisions (just exactly what Poroshenko is doing) is only exacerbating the crisis. The process may become irreversible. As Sholtz writes, Europeans influenced by Kolomoisky, start to understand it and launch appropriate consultations. The only thing left is to convince Americans, who are behind Poroshenko, to give their consent to such a rotation.

The Kolomoisky lobby in the United States has already launched its activities. 

Edward G. Gallagher, the head of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University noted that thanks to the Kolomoisky’s influence, the Ukrainian parliament decided to transfer the control over the national gas pipeline to the United States and European Union investors. According to Gallagher, it would be propitious if a man with such financial and political resources and connections in the United States, Israel and Europe would get more authority that just being a governor.

Poroshenko is extremely concerned over the attacks by Kolomoisky. He is rushing to make new appointments in the top power structures ranks giving preference to those who are personally loyal. He shies away from starting a direct dialogue with Kolomoisky, gathering a group of other tycoons concerned over the excessive aspirations of the Dnepropetrovsk governor. TV channel Inter that belongs to gas tycoon Dmitry Firtash shot a film about the criminal past of Kolomoisky and his business, as well as his connections with Yanukovych. In the film Kolomoisky is given a nickname Chameleon, he is accused of wrong doing in his relationship with the Privat bank debt holders, artificial bankruptcy of Donbassaero, Aerosvit, Dnepraero enterprises for personal profit and raids against private property among other things. 

The internal strife between Ukrainian oligarchs is moving to a new phase. Whatever the outcome of the war on Donbass the country will have to grapple with the problem of greedy tycoons in power. A lot will depend on how soon the Ukrainian people will realize who their real enemies are.